Wednesday, 16 September 2020

The Days Grow Shorter...

.... but summer seems reluctant to bid farewell.
Ipomoea - Morning Glory 'Heavenly Blue'
It was late into the season before I planted these seeds, but better late never.
Phygelius - Cape Fuchsia
The deer that visit the garden love these small Begonias. They eat just the flowers, but then the plants fight back and grow new ones - we keep our fingers crossed that the deer will forget that they are here.
We drove down into one of our local valleys seeking shade - our hilltop was hot.
Then walked past this old stone mill, one of many that still occupy the valley. As one of the earliest cloth making areas, these mills helped to bring great wealth to the district - a legacy that can be traced right back to the 14th century. Italian merchants, in particular, clamoured to buy wool from the Cotswolds. It was said: "half the wealth of England rides on the back of a sheep."
The walk takes you between a local river to one side and a canal built in 1779 on the other. The valley, known as the Golden Valley, is what Queen Victoria called it when she viewed it from a train window on a visit here - so Golden it has remained. 
This small valley church was built in 1724 - the chief glory of this church lies in its Arts and Crafts Movement furnishing done by several of the early 19th century distinguished Cotswold craftsmen. 
Scattered up and down the hillside and along the valley are the many little cottages that were once lived in by the cloth weavers, and those who worked in the mills.
Most have now been extended and gentrified.
Time for home, a cup of tea,
and a good book.
George Szirtes is a prize winning poet and translator, but this is his first foray into writing prose. Last month The Photographer at Sixteen won him the prestigious James Tait Black Prize, and it has just been announced that in 2021 he will be one of the International Booker Prize judges.
As a family we have known George for many years - he taught our youngest son English at school, and offered helpful guidance to our eldest son with his poetry writing. 
Born in Budapest, George, his parents, and younger brother fled Hungary and came to England in 1956 during the uprising. He was eight years old, and vividly recalls their desperate escape.
As a young girl his mother's ambition was to be a photographer and eventually she became a photo journalist in Budapest. She struggled with displacement, battled poor health, and took her life when she was 51 years old. In his quest to try and unravel the enigmas surrounding his mother's life, George travels back through his own personal memory and into an unknown darker family history to discover his mother's secret past. During the war she was interned and survived two concentration camps, and lived with the awful memory of not knowing the fate of her family, who had all disappeared from their home in Transylvania. This previous life was an unknown revelation to George, he hadn't even perceived that his mother was Jewish, a fact that she had kept hidden, even within their family. 
Critic, Patrick McGuinness writes "it is those closest to us who remain the most mysterious."

32 comments:

  1. It is a shame, but I cannot see Morning Glory now without remembering the time when people ate the seeds as a cheap recreational drug.

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    1. That is news to me - I love Morning Glory flowers - these have grown so large that they are almost the size of a small saucer.

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  2. Dearest Rosemary,
    Lovely garden blossoms you still enjoy and that morning glory's color is indeed a heavenly blue!
    Quite interesting how the area made its fortune off the wool and weaving the cloth for centuries.
    Love the buildings and they have been kept up really well.
    What a sad unravelling by this son about his own Mother who could in the end not bare her emotional loss due to WWII... It also shows us how strong the bond between parents and children is; she never overcame their loss. Who knows what she had to endure personally why being interned in two concentration camps.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - We are really enjoying our 'Indian Summer'- long may it continue.
      It has been a poignant read learning more about George's family background, especially as we have known him for many years.

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  3. The days indeed are getting shorter, Rosemary, and our after dinner-walks are being abbreviated as the darkness closes In ever more rapidly. The lingering blooms in your garden are quite wonderful and they form a great backdrop to the start of my day.

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    1. The darkness for me here has been exaggerated by some very pretty, colourful solar lights that we have strung up in the garden. At the height of the summer that were lighting up at 10pm, now that are coming on at 7pm and rapidly getting earlier and earlier as each day passes by.

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  4. Hello Rosemary, I don't mind the shorter days, as there is less intense sun heating things up. I noticed how many of those beautiful stone buildings now have skylights and apparently solar panels. While I suppose the owners have to keep up with the times, and realizing that skylights can be quite old, they add a jarring note and remind us that we are not being transported in time.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I can see your point, and I personally would not like solar panels on my roof. These artisan cottages are not listed, but if they were it would be a different matter.

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  5. Loved seeing the old buildings among trees. It is especially interesting to hear of George's mother's story, and I'm sure the book is worthwhile. Your knowing him so well would make reading the book very personal. Thank you for telling us about the author's life.

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    1. You are right Barbara, I am really finding the book a particularly poignant read especially because I know him, but also due to the historical insights that it reveals.

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  6. So many lives blighted and ruined by fascism. One of the twentieth century's greatest tragedies and crimes. I hope we're smart enough not to repeat those mistakes in the twenty-first century, but some days I doubt it.

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    1. I would like to believe that is true Debra, but like you I too doubt it.

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  7. Just as your days get shorter ours are getting longer. Loved the photos.

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  8. Riding on the sheep's back used to be the same expression for Australia's prosperity in the 1950s, so I never knew it was a far more ancient expression for the Cotswolds. I cannot picture two more opposing images as the yellow dustbowl of our sheep-rearing country and your bucolic paradise! Although I am sure that things weren't so lovely for the mill workers back in the day, the village is certainly filled with charm today.

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    1. I wonder what the medieval mill workers would think of our life today? Or for that matter, I often wonder what my mother, who died over 40 years ago, would think?

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  9. Lovely photos and wonderful to see the flowers and buildings in your area.
    Morning glory is a weed here but it's lovely all the same.
    Of course being on the opposite side of the world Rosemary our days are drawing out...enjoy the remainder of your summer days.

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    1. They are definitely not a weed over here, in fact I find them quite difficult to grow. We do have a member of the same family that grows rampantly over here - common name bind weed. It looks just like the morning glory but it is pure white, and is a menace.

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  10. What a beautiful area you live in. The golden valley sounds like perfect walking country. Glad the begonias reflower after being munched!

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    1. This morning I looked out of the window and the begonias have all been munched - I expect the deer will wait for a week or two to let them flower again, and then call back!

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  11. Lovely district. When I stayed at Stow on the Wold, many years ago, I did several long bike tours retracing various books or TV series set in the area like Cider With Rosie, Pennies from Heaven, and A Child in the Forest by Winifred Foley etc, which gave the scenery an extra layer of interest moving through it. Today it would be Father Brown of course, also set in the Cotswolds. Morning Glory looks similar to white Bindweed which is also blooming around now. I usually get a bit sad when I see that as it's an annual sign summer is ending.

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    1. The Slad Valley is a local valley for me, but the Forest of Dean is over on the far side of the R. Severn where Winifred Foley and Dennis Potter both grew up. I never watched Father Brown so didn't realise that it too was set in the Cotswolds.
      Morning Glory is a close relative of Bindweed, but unlike Bindweed it is difficult to grow. Morning Glory is a weed in many other parts of the world where it grows rampantly in the same way as Bindweed does for us.

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  12. I've added the book to my wish list Rosemary - it sounds so interesting, especially as you know the author, and of course my huge love for Budapest (my favorite city of all) always entices me back and I love to learn more about the history there.

    History of the Golden Valley is lovely too - Cotswold stone is so beautiful in the sunshine.

    Your garden looks awesome still - mine not so much! I've pulled out the morning glories as they are over. Really need to get out there this weekend now the rains have left and we are promised a full week ahead of pleasant temps. and full sunshine! There's a breeze this morning and golden fig tree leaves are falling fast.

    Enjoy the weekend - knowing you there will be some new sights to see and share - can't wait!!!

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    1. Your lovely garden has taken a battering Mary with all the heavy storms, but hopefully it will quickly recover now more pleasant temperatures are coming.
      We wont be going too far this weekend as we are away next week - just a few days, but it would be lovely if this warm weather continued through until then.
      Should you do get George's book, I so hope that you find it an interesting read.
      In the north of the country there have been some worrying virus spikes and partial lockdowns have been reintroduced, but hoping that this SW area continues to remain low, but touching wood, just in case.

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  13. Beautiful post. Oh those flowers. I also like the cottages climbing up the hill. The book sounds intriguing, and you actually know the family....amazing.

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    1. These late summer flowers in shades of pink and palest blue are what I normally associate with late spring with a September palette bringing shades of orange, yellow and purple.
      We have known George, but not his family, since he taught my youngest son.

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